What Waits Below

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What Waits Below
Secrets of the Phantom Caverns movie poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster using film's original title
Directed by Don Sharp
Produced by Robert D. Bailey
Sandy Howard
Don Levin
Mel Pearl
Jeffrey M. Sneller
Written by Ken Barnett
Christy Marx
Robert Vincent O'Neill
Starring Robert Powell
Timothy Bottoms
Lisa Blount
Richard Johnson
Anne Heywood
Music by Denny Jaeger
Michel Rubini
Cinematography Virgil L. Harper
Edited by John R. Bowey
Release date
Running time
88 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

What Waits Below is a science-fiction adventure film (initially released under the title Secrets of the Phantom Caverns) released in 1984. Directed by Don Sharp, produced by the Adams Apple Film Company, the film runs for 88 minutes and starred Robert Powell, Timothy Bottoms, and Lisa Blount.[1] The tagline for the video release of the film was "Underground, no-one can hear you die".

Plot summary[edit]

The US military is running a test for a special type of radio transmitter, to be used to communicate with submarines, in a deep system of underground caves in Central America. When the signal from one of the transmitters suddenly disappears, a team of soldiers led by Major Elbert Stevens (Bottoms) and cave specialists led by Rupert 'Wolf' Wolfsen (Powell) including scientist Leslie Peterson (Blount) are sent in to find out what happened.

Exploring deep underground, they stumble upon a tribe of albino cave-dwellers who have apparently been isolated from the rest of the world for thousands of years. The cave-dwellers are hurt by radio frequencies and are able to see in infra-red frequencies, tracking the explorers by their body heat.



Principal photography for the movie took place in a former limestone quarry and in natural caves in Alabama and Cumberland Caverns in Tennessee starting in August 1983.[2][3] Production was briefly halted in late August when carbon monoxide produced by generators in the Cathedral Caverns location sent at least 17 people to the hospital.[3] Production wrapped in late October 1983.[4]


The film was released on VHS in the United States in November 1985.[1]


  1. ^ a b "The Latest Hoopla". Daily News of Los Angeles. 8 November 1985. Retrieved 12 September 2009. What Waits Below: Timothy Bottoms, Robert Powell and Lisa Blount star in this science-fiction film about an unexplainable horror that waits below [...] 
  2. ^ "TV series not as profitable as concert dates". The Spokesman-Review. 31 July 1983. p. 13. Retrieved 12 September 2009. The SANDY HOWARD feature, which goes into production Aug. 8, be filming in Tennessee and Alabama locations. 
  3. ^ a b "Gas blame for illness, panic of set; Caves are being used to shoot sci-fi flick". Miami Herald. 23 August 1983. p. 3B. Retrieved 12 September 2009. Early indications were that generators used to power lights inside Cathedral Caverns were the source of the gas that touched off the panic late Saturday night. At least 17 people, many of them actors in the movie Secrets of the Phantom Caverns, were taken to area hospitals. 
  4. ^ Mann, Roderick (27 October 1983). "Man who played 'Jesus' to make U.S. film debut". Los Angeles Times. p. E1. Retrieved 12 September 2009. Six years after making his initial impact on American audiences as the star of Franco Zeffirelli's 1977 TV film "Jesus of Nazareth," British actor Robert Powell has just finished his first American-made film. 

External links[edit]